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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Taylor Martinez Benched for Zac Lee, Out of Heisman Trophy Race

It was only a week ago that I (and many others) was raving about Nebraska freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. Martinez had run for 241 yards and four touchdowns in a road blowout at Kansas State and appeared to be in the mix with Denard Robinson and Cam Newton as one of the best running quarterbacks in the country. Just as the Heisman talk began to heat up, Martinez went out and disappointed with his performance against Texas and ended up benched.

Martinez was 4/12 for 63 yards in the passing game and only had 21 yards on 13 rushes. T-Magic was let down by his teammates who dropped at least one touchdown pass, and possibly a second. He deserved much better and threw better than the passing stats indicated, but the surprise was how ineffective he was in the running game. After two three-and-out drives in the third quarter, Nebraska benched Martinez in favor of senior Zac Lee who came on with 6:14 left in the third.

Lee led Nebraska on an 83-yard drive that resulted in a field goal to make it 20-6 Texas. After a three-and-out by Texas, Nebraska got the ball back and Zac Lee had a chance to lead the Huskers on another scoring drive. They ended up with a 4th and 18 at the Texas 38 with just over seven minutes left in the game. Lee threw a beautiful ball down the middle of the field to Brandon Kinnie who beat his man on a post pattern. Just like what happened with Martinez, the receivers let the quarterback down and Kinnie dropped a sure touchdown that would have made it 20-13.

Maybe Karma was served to Nebraska fans who were going overboard with their Texas hate before the game. Surprisingly, there may be a quarterback controversy in Lincoln, though I imagine Martinez will keep the job. The one thing we do know for certain: Taylor Martinez is no longer a Heisman Trophy candidate after that performance.

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